Houston Astros' Chris Carter strikes out swinging in the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Seattle as Mariners' catcher Mike Zunino looks on at right. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren
September 09, 2014

SEATTLE (AP) When Brad Miller was hitting a season-low .151 three months into the season, he might not have expected even to be with the Seattle Mariners in the final month of the season.

But Miller made perhaps his most significant contribution to the club's postseason aspirations Monday night, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run triple and driving in three runs in a 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros.

''I've said all year, and a lot of people thought I was crazy, but I believe he's an offensive player in this league,'' Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. ''He's struggled quite a bit early but I think it's starting to pay off a little bit now.''

The Mariners moved one game behind Oakland, which lost to the White Sox, 5-4 in 12 innings, for the first AL wild card and are one game ahead of Detroit for the second playoff spot.

With one out in the eighth, Mike Zunino worked a walk off Michael Foltynewicz (0-1). James Jones pinch ran for him and stole second. Tony Sipp entered and walked Michael Saunders.

Jones then stole third without a throw. He has 25 steals in 26 attempts.

''I was just trying to be aggressive,'' Miller said. ''I was just looking for something I could drive. I was able to lay off two sliders and let Jonesy get to third. I just wanted get the head out and drive it.''

With the infield and outfield drawn in, Miller hit a liner that skipped past right-fielder Jake Marisnick, rolling to the wall. Both runners scored and Miller reached third standing up.

Austin Jackson followed with a single to center.

''He made the right play,'' Astros interim manager Tom Lawless said of Marisnick. ''That ball was hit pretty good. Just got out there and back-spinned up and took off on him.''

Danny Farquhar (3-1) worked the eighth for the victory.

Fernando Rodney, despite putting two on in the ninth and throwing 30 pitches, picked up his AL-leading 44th save in his 47th opportunity.

Danny Farquhar (3-1) worked the eighth for the victory.

Fernando Rodney put two on in the ninth but earned his AL-leading 44th save in his 47th opportunity.

Despite struggling with his control, Felix Hernandez tossed five-hit ball for six innings. He matched his season high with four walks and threw two wild pitches.

Houston put runners in scoring position three times against Hernandez but they were hitless in five attempts to drive the runner in - striking out four times.

''Felix battled all night,'' McClendon said. ''He had some strikeouts and had some walks. It looked like he was a little out of rhythm. In the end, he got six innings in, no runs. Shows how great he is.''

Astros starter Brad Peacock entered with a 5.01 ERA, but he allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out six in five innings.

Miller delivered a two-out RBI single in the sixth off Jorge De Leon.

The Astros tied it in the seventh - even after having a home run taken back by a replay review.


Mariners: Saunders was activated from the DL and started in right field. He has been out since July 11 with a left oblique strain and a viral infection. ... OF Dustin Ackley missed his second straight game with an ailing left ankle. ''It's one of those things that might take a couple days and I'll be ready to go,'' he said. He will have an MRI to rule out anything serious.


Mariners LHP Roenis Elias (10-12) matches up against Houston's Collin McHugh.


McClendon has set his rotation through the end of the season. He's going with Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Chris Young, Roenis Elias and James Paxton. By design, Hernandez will be in line to pitch the season's final game. Or, if clinched beforehand, he could switch to start a wild-card game.


The Astros can play playoff spoilers down the stretch. They face Seattle (five games), the Los Angeles Angles (three) and Cleveland (four) over the next 13 days. Interim manager Tom Lawless would like to give his September callups more playing time but won't. ''While we're playing these teams in the playoff hunt, it's not fair to everyone else. We're going to try to win the game, bottom line,'' he said.

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